Performing Ensemble: United States Air Force Concert Band. Publisher(s): Department of Air Force.
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"Hail to the Chief," with its preceding fanfare known as "Ruffles and Flourishes," is traditionally played to announce the arrival of the President at State functions. Possibly derived from an old Gaelic air, "Hail to the Chief" was used in James Sandersonâs musical play of 1812, The Lady of the Lake. It appears in a gallant boating scene honoring the highland chieftain, Sir Roderick Dhu. The song was already very popular when the Marine Band played it from a barge for the opening of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal on July 4, 1828, in the presence of President John Quincy Adams.
On March 4, 1829, the Marine Band performed at the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson, the first inaugural ceremonies held on the U.S. Capitol steps. President Martin Van Buren instituted formal outdoor concerts on the U.S. Capitol grounds, a tradition carried on today during the summer months. President William Henry Harrison died one month after his inauguration, and the Marine Band led his funeral cortege on April 4, 1841.
President John Tyler is believed to be the first to use "Hail to the Chief" as the official Presidential honors. "Hail to the Chief" had been played in the White House under Presidents Jackson and Van Buren, but it did not become the official Presidential honors until First Lady Julia Tyler instructed the Marine Band to play it whenever the President made an official appearance. President Tyler also instituted weekly public concerts on the White House grounds, a tradition that continued on Saturday evenings from spring to fall until the administration of Herbert Hoover. In 1854 President Franklin Pierce approved legislation allowing the band extra pay for playing "on the grounds of the President and the Capitol."